The Graduate Visa - An Opportunity for Employers to Recruit the Brightest and the Best

Just in time for graduation season, on July 1st 2021 the Government introduced the Graduate Route visa to enable graduates to stay in the UK for at least 2 years following their graduation. Unlike existing visas which require the employer to do the application, this route requires the graduate to apply and pay the consequent fees. The complete guidance has been published by the Home Office, but below is a comprehensive overview of this documentation to show how employers can benefit from this visa.

  1. The application will be made online and will be made by the student not the business. The application fee will be £700 and the health surcharge will be £624 for each year you will be in the UK.
  2. The Home Office have said that it will take approximately 8 weeks for a decision on the application but employers note that international students can commence work full-time for you once they have completed their course and their student visa will be automatically extended until the Home Office make a decision on the Graduate Visa application. As an employer, you will need to make an Employer Checking Service to obtain a positive verification from the Home Office that there is an application pending as your right to work check.
  3. Once the application is approved the student will receive an e-mail confirming their digital status and this will include a PDF of their decision letter. Graduates will then be able to view their immigration status here and this link will also give students their ‘share code’ to provide to employers as proof of status.
  4. Employers will then use the share code and the graduate’s date of birth to check the graduate’s right to work here. Employers, note that this must be done in the presence of the graduate (in person or virtually) to check that the online photo matches the person. You will then save the online profile page as a hard copy or electronically as a PDF.
  5. PhD graduates will be given status under this visa for 3 years and all other graduates 2 years. The good news is that graduates will be able to carry out any type of work meaning that employment does not need to be related to their field of study. The Home Office does see the Graduate Route as one way of addressing the skills shortages as a consequence of European free movement of workers ending and employers should take advantage. In addition, as a business it allows you to train and develop new talent and recruit strategically particularly, where your business has or is gearing up to explore overseas markets. Further, there are no minimum salary requirements in employing Graduate Visa holders other than national minimum wage.
  6. Having invested time and money in the training and development of a Graduate Visa holder, as a business you will be able switch them to a Skilled Worker Visa so long as you have a sponsor licence. Again, the acquisition of a sponsor licence should be viewed as an asset for the business as it will allow you to widen your recruitment search for the brightest and best talent regardless of where they are based in the world.
  7. Graduate Visa holders switching to the Skilled Worker Route will be regarded as new entrants and therefore businesses will benefit from being able to pay a minimum salary of £20,480 or 70% of the going rate salary (whichever is higher) for the jobs they will be carrying out.
  8. Finally, a note of caution for employers. You cannot refuse applications from those who have time-limited visas and right to work. All applicants should be considered on merit and refused because there were stronger candidates. Avoid discrimination claims, or else be prepared to justify your position.

As always, if you need further guidance please do get in touch.